Eric Hosmer could not keep a straight face. He understood his third-inning home run, a three-run, game-tying blast in an eventual 9-5 Royals victory over the Cincinnati Reds, may have been aided by the conditions at Surprise Stadium.
“I got a good piece of it,” Hosmer said with a laugh. “Arizona might have helped it a little bit.”
Wind-assisted or not, Hosmer felt happy with his process at the plate. And the Royals could not argue with the results. They pounded Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto for six runs and chased him during the third inning.
Salvador Perez crushed the baseball. He hit a solo homer in the second, an RBI double in the third and an RBI single in the fifth. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon notched back-to-back triples in the third.
The onslaught offset an unsightly performance from Danny Duffy, who gave up four runs in two innings. All four came in the first, thanks to a pair of homers and two errors in the field. Duffy looked much crisper in the second. He needed only nine pitches to retire the top of the order. Bruce Chen later contributed three scoreless innings of his own. He struck out three.
“I’m feeling really good,” Chen said. “I feel like I’m there. I feel like I’m keeping the ball down really well, and changing speeds really good.”Arms race
In his second outing of the spring, Duffy ran the gamut of trouble. He gave up hard-hit balls: A leadoff double, a two-run homer by Ryan Ludwick and a subsequent solo shot by Todd Frazier. He lacked command: Duffy fell behind a few hitters, uncorked a wild pitch and hit a batter. And the defense behind him was erratic: Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas each committed errors.
The Reds notched four in the frame. One was unearned. Duffy managed to hide his dissatisfaction with the strike zone.
“If I pitch like that every game, as far as location, I think I’ll go a long way,” Duffy said. “Hats off to Ludwick for hitting that ball that I left up. But other than that, I thought I threw that first inning pretty, pretty good.”
Manager Ned Yost was less convinced.
“I didn’t like his location in the first inning,” he said. “His location in the second inning was really good. He got some pitches up. In the first inning, he was just off a bit. And some of those pitches could have been called strikes. But where he got hurt was up in the zone.”Medical updates
Second baseman Omar Infante (shoulder inflammation) sat out again. He completed throwing drills on Monday, but still felt soreness in his arm. The team remains unperturbed by the lingering discomfort. Yost hopes Infante can play designated hitter on Wednesday.
Reliever Louis Coleman (bruised middle finger) threw a successful session of live batting practice, and should be cleared for game action soon.Etc.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar returned to the team from paternity leave. He’ll make his Cactus League debut later this week.
The game on Wednesday against Arizona makes the first chance to utilize the new replay system. The Royals will stash two members of the staff, Cody Clark and Bill Duplissea, in the television truck during the game. The team is training both for the job during the season. Duplissea has been the team’s bullpen catcher. Clark’s on-field role for 2014 has yet to be determined.Up next
James Shields will make his second Cactus League start this spring. The Royals travel to Scottsdale to play the Diamondbacks.Quote
“That’s the one thing that I wish I had more of. I saw a couple of times, 82 mph, 83. I think I hit 85 mph one time.” — Bruce Chen, on his fastball velocity.